Since finding my 1998 Kona Hei Hei I have only really had the chance to take it on a few local trips. This week however, I took it on my latest cycling holiday to the Malvern Hills. I stay with family there, and just cycle the Hills for the week. I have ridden the Hills on quite a few of my bikes, but I was particularly interested to see what the Hei Hei could do.
Arriving Monday early afternoon, I was straight off the train to dump my stuff off at my sister’s place, and quickly cycled to the North end of the Hills. Passed the Back On Track bike shop, and into the Clocktower / North Quarry Car Park. I prefer this route to most others, as I get the maximum amount of hard-pack riding.
It’s tricky to say what form or ability I may have on any particular day (at 53 years old now!), but I felt pretty good and got my wind on that first climb out of the car park. I’m running Michelin XC Dry II on that bike, which I like a lot. They suit my light weight, and roll very well. Once I got onto the initial levelled out section, I was flying around that track heading towards the grassy knoll above St Ann’s Well. A quick stop and a chat to a couple of locals, and then decided to take the quickest (and steepest) route to the top of the Worcestershire Beacon.
I was so pleased with the Hei Hei’s climbing ability, and was trying to compare it to my 2003 Kona Kula Primo, which I have ridden a lot there. I don’t know if I was caught up in the moment, or whether the Hei Hei is better – it just seemed better on the day. The Kula Primo is lighter, stiffer and is fitted with an identical pair of 2007 World Cup SIDs - I guess I would need to have the same ride on the same day to give a true appraisal.
Anyway, the Hei Hei flew up that North East face and I surprised myself how quickly I got to the top. … See pictures looking North from the Worcestershire Beacon.
On the way down, the bike was as I expected – well balanced and manoeuvrable. To be honest, my up-hill skills are considerably better than my down hill riding ability, but I felt really confident on the Hei Hei.
Not sure why I'm looking into the middle distance!
My sister's place just out of shot behind North Hill
Tuesday, (and slightly better dressed for the occasion) I started on the very extreme North end of the Hills, just as the road curves round into West Malvern. It is a real roller coaster ride with a lot of cropped grass, where the sheep graze.
I didn’t do too many miles today, as tomorrow I will be doing the entire length of the Hills down into Herefordshire. The Herefordshire Beacon is spectacular – an Iron Age fort, and a lot more open.
1989: Kona Cinder Cone | 1993: Kona Kilauea | 1996: Kona Ku | 1997: Kona King Kahuna Stars ‘n’ Bars 18” Vs - Kona King Kahuna 19” Disc - Kona Explosif - Kona Koa | 1998: Kona Hei Hei - Kona Ku - Kona Hot | 2000: Kona Explosif | 2003: Kona Kula Primo | 2007: Scapin Kyoto | 2010: Kona Kilauea.